My baby cries uncontrollably when she gets a shot. How can I make the experience
easier for her? – Kate
Getting shots can be tough on you and your child, but the benefits
are worth the effort. Fortunately, you can do a few things to make the experience
less painful and stressful.
If your daughter is a newborn or under 5 months old, try a method called the "5
S's" immediately after she gets a vaccine. These are:
swaddlingimmediately after the shot. You also
can swaddle (wrapping a baby tightly in a blanket like a "burrito") before the shot,
but leave your baby's legs exposed for the vaccination.
placing her on her side or stomach
making shushing sounds in her ear
swinging her in your arms or an infant swing
giving her the opportunity to suck (whether through
breastfeeding, a bottle, or a pacifier)
Research has shown that doing at least 4 of the 5 S's greatly reduces the amount
of time infants cry after getting a shot. If you're OK with breastfeeding your daughter
at the doctor's office (to fulfill the sucking recommendation), this alone can be
an effective method of distracting your baby and calming her down. You might even
be able to do it while your child gets the vaccine.
In some situations, a sugar water solution may be available. Dipping a pacifier
into this solution, then giving it to a fussy baby may help soothe the child.
Before and after the shot is given, try applying gentle pressure and rubbing the
skin around the injection site. This massage may prevent the area from feeling so
For an older baby or a toddler, swaddling or shushing might not work. Try letting
your child sit on your lap during the shot and distract her with a toy, book, or song.
Try not to look upset or concerned. Children can pick up on a parent's anxiety, and
it can make them anxious as well.
If your child has pain at the site where the shot was given or develops a fever
and feels sick, speak to your child's doctor about giving medicine such as acetaminophen
or ibuprofen to relieve
Also, don't forget to praise your child afterward. A little positive reinforcement
can make the next trip to the doctor easier. Try to do something fun after the appointment.
A trip to the park or playground can make the day's memories happier ones.